Excerpt: Human use and misuse of land has been causing extensive degradation of the very natural resources on which we depend. National parks, wilderness and other protected natural or semi-natural areas (referred to as natural areas hereafter) represent efforts to preserve our natural heritage from further exploitation. Such areas also provide outstanding recreational, research, and educational opportunities. However, resource impacts resulting from overuse and inappropriate management increasingly threaten these protected areas and erode their natural and cultural values. Among the many forms of recreational impact, those associated with trail development and use are often a major concern of natural area managers and visitors. Such impacts impair and degrade the functions that trails serve, including (1) protecting resources by concentrating traffic on a hardened tread, (2) providing recreational opportunities along aesthetically pleasing trail routes, and (3) facilitating recreational use by providing a transportation network. The extensive distribution of trails and their degrading condition in many natural areas can have pervasive environmental effects through alteration of natural drainage patterns, erosion and deposition of soil, introduction of exotic vegetation, and increasing human-wildlife conflicts. Degraded trails also threaten the quality of visitor experiences by making travel difficult or unsafe, or by diminishing visitors ?
Additional publication details
Trail degradation as influenced by environmental factors: A state-of-the-knowledge review